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Predators tie series with triple OT win

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NASHVILLE—Mike Fisher ended his own personal playoff drought with his first overtime goal in 12 years—giving the exhausted Nashville Predators plenty to celebrate.

Fisher scored his second goal at 11:12 of the third overtime as the Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 early this morning in the longest game in franchise history.

“It took a long time but thanks we have ‘Fish,’” said Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

With the victory, the Predators won their first overtime game on home ice. More importantly, they tied this second-round series at 2-2.

The Sharks needed only five games in beating Nashville in the first round in both 2006 and 2007.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette, in his second season, said teams have a lot invested in a game that goes this deep.

“To win a game like that is big,” he stressed. “To think about the other scenario, you’re 3-1 the other way.

“This ties it up 2-2. It shortens the series,” Laviolette noted.

“Our guys played like champs tonight.”

James Neal scored with 4:21 left in the third period, then the teams went scoreless during the first two overtimes before heading to a third extra period—the first in the NHL playoffs this year.

The Predators killed off six penalties, including one shortly before Fisher’s winning goal at 1:03 a.m.

Rinne made 44 saves to give Fisher a chance at his second playoff overtime goal in his career and first since Game 6 with Ottawa in 2004.

“I don’t care how these wins come if we have to play all night,” Rinne said.

“It’s 2-2 right now.”

This was the longest game for the Sharks since a four-overtime game in Dallas in 2008.

Now the Sharks, the NHL’s best road team during the regular season, have lost two-straight away from San Jose for the first time since Dec. 18 and 20.

Game 5 goes tomorrow night in San Jose—about 44 hours after this game ended.

Sharks’ coach Pete DeBoer still was furious after the game over a goal Joe Pavelski scored at 7:34 of the first overtime period that could have ended it much earlier.

Pavelski grabbed the puck out of the air and then tapped it across the line at 7:34, but officials immediately ruled no goal for goaltender interference.

They upheld that ruling after review for Pavelski crashing into Rinne and pinning him down before the puck crossed the line.

DeBoer said he was told Pavelski did get his stick on the puck before it crossed the line, but officials waived it off for incidental contact.

“I don’t understand,” DeBoer added. “I guess incidental contact is you’re cross-checked from behind while you are in the air and you have the opportunity to stop.

“I guess that’s what it is.

“You know what, that rule has been clear as mud to every coach in the league all year, so why should it be different tonight,” he fumed.

Rinne said a goalie is nervous anytime they review a goal.

“It was called off on the ice, and I felt pretty comfortable that it’s not going to be a goal,” Rinne noted.

“Missed a bullet there so that was nice.”

Elsewhere, Dallas beat St. Louis 3-2 (OT) to knot their series at 2-2.

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